Cal Blanca is a wine named after a vineyard located in the highest elevation subzone of the Toro DO region. The wine displays violet and graphite aromas and cool, fresh flavors on the palate. The goal of Cal Blanca is to make an estate-bottled wine from a vineyard situated in the only area in Toro (Cerro del Almendro) with limestone soils. "Cal Blanca" ("white chalk" in English) refers to the rare chalky, calcareous limestone soils found in this special vineyard. Located southwest of Ribera del Duero in Zone 2, the region of Toro has a warmer climate than Ribera del Duero and its wines are bolder, meatier and more full-bodied. The profile of Toro's soils contains mostly river stones and sandy topsoil atop layers of thick, hard clay subsoil. Planted in 1985, the Cal Blanca vineyard is sited at 809 meters (2,654 ft.) elevation, 15 km southwest of the town of Toro. The vines are head pruned (also called en vaso or gobelet) in the traditional manner, dry farmed (no irrigation), and tended using organic viticulture.
WHAT MAKES THIS WINE UNIQUE? Cal Blanca is a single-vineyard wine tended in white chalk soil at a very high elevation of 809 meters (2,654 ft.). The wine displays aromas of graphite and violets. It is a cool, fresh example of Tempranillo, known locally as Tinta de Toro. The wine is not as tannic or alcoholic as most other Toro wines.
RATING HISTORY: 2012 90VN; 2011 90RP; 2010 90IWC; 2009 90IWC; 2007 90WA
GRAPE: 100% Tempranillo (Tinta de Toro). Organically grown (certified) vines planted in 1985. Tended in limestone and white chalk soil at 809 m (2,654 ft) elevation. This is a vegan wine.
PAIRING SUGGESTIONS: This wine shows the brawny and bold black fruits, violet and mineral character of Toro, but with distinctive aromatic freshness, uncommon balance and licorice notes. Pair this structured, elegantly powerful red with grilled steak, prime rib, beef roast and dishes with similar heft of flavor, including braised pork shoulder and venison, which the sweet tannins of Toro should compliment well. For more casual foods, beef or pork empanadas, BBQ beef, brisket and pulled pork sandwiches, and burritos will all pair well.
VINIFICATION AND AGEING: The must undergoes pre-fermentation cool maceration for 3 days, then 20 days of fermentation at cool temperatures. The wine is aged in French oak barrels that are two years old, for 6 months followed by 24 months in 5,000-liter concrete tanks to provide oxygenation without the influence of oak.
PRODUCTION: 2,300 cases
LOCATION, SOIL, CLIMATE: The vineyards are located in Zone 2, within the Toro region, at 809 meters (2,654 ft.) elevation at Cerro del Almendro, one of the highest points in Toro and the only site with limestone soil and vines. Cal Blanca is one of only a few limestone vineyards in the Toro region. The climate here is characterized by hot days and cool nights. The average temperature from May-October is 63F. The cool night temperatures prolong the ripening cycle and result in more balanced wines that are full of color and fruit intensity.
TASTING NOTES: Deep ruby. Ripe dark berries, licorice and mocha on the nose, plus a hint of smokiness in the background. Smooth, round and open-knit; a peppery nuance adds lift and bite to sweet blackberry, cassis and candied violet flavors. The long, supple finish shows very good clarity and closes on a gently tannic note, leaving a floral pastille note behind.-- Josh Raynolds
All photos: Friederike Paetzold